Schooling in America vs. Europe


photo by Roxanne Thompson

Larou de Jong (senior) on her first day as an exchange student at Meridian High School.

Starting school every day at 7:47, walking to a different class every hour, being with classmates of all different ages, attending a prom, homecoming dance and playing a sport. All these  things that happen in an American high school, but have you ever wondered about schools in Europe? About what life was like for your foreign exchange students?

Schools in Europe and America are so different. Sports are an important part of the American school culture, whether you play basketball, soccer or football, you will always be on a team with people who are from your school. In Europe, you will never see that. If you want to play a sport, you will always play in a team outside of school.

 “To me the biggest difference between European schools and American ones is the school spirit because we don’t really have clubs or groups where you can join in,” said Giorgia Iannone, an Italian former exchange student from Meridian.

In Europe, you do have school dances, but these are not a big deal and probably only happen once or twice in your whole high school career. However, in America, prom and homecoming dances happen every year.

“During my exchange, I felt part of a community,” said Oscar Garcia, a Spanish former exchange student at Meridian, who took part in multiple clubs. 

Not only are those examples of differences, but Europe has a whole different way of teaching. In America, you have the choice to choose electives and that is something you will not see in Europe. Even though Europe has multiple countries, they almost all have the same way of teaching.

If you go to school in Europe, you have to study a lot and it’s not all about homework. There is a lot more studying out of books, so you know all of the information for your test and can get a good grade. You don’t get credit for doing your homework, so you are not obligated to do it. The grade for your subjects all depends on the grades that you get for your tests.

“I feel like academia is in Europe normally the main focus, with extra curriculars being part of your private life rather than your academic career,” said Sophie Fiebig, a German former exchange student.

In America, you have the same schedule everyday, but in Europe your schedule changes everyday.

Although American students move from class to class as the day goes on, European teachers move from class to class while the students stay put. This is not a common thing in Europe but it does happen.

America and Europe are both unique in their own ways, good and bad. In the end, you will still have days you would rather stay home or days with a bag full of homework.

Many exchange students believe the experience is “not better or worse, it is just different.”